“We have made a commitment to our customers and this country to produce the best we can. We just don’t want to compromise.” Nyetimber
While we had come across English wines in the past, we have to hold up our hands and admit that it wasn’t until we joined Twitter in March 2014 that we discovered there was just so much winemaking going on in the UK. We were absolutely amazed to find out that in England and Wales there are 135 wineries and 470 vineyards, 80 of which are located in the South Central region, not far from Winchester.
Having realised that we had a veritable hive of winemaking activity on our doorstep, we were naturally rather excited to see a tweet from Nyetimber at the end of the Summer, advertising the first ever Open Days at their West Sussex vineyard. Nyetimber’s aim is “to make the finest English sparkling wine there is” and the luxury brand is highly reputed so we naturally felt very privileged to be allowed through their doors!
It took us just over an hour in the car to get to Nyetimber from Winchester… not counting a fantastic pub lunch en route. On arrival we had some time to take in the picturesque setting before being put in two groups and sent off into the vineyard.
On the edge of the South Downs National Park, the vineyard is situated in a fantastic location for winemaking: chalk soil, moderate climate, south facing slopes etc. They produce their sparkling wine in the traditional method and grow the three grape varieties used in Champagne: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.
We were taken through the vineyard and allowed to get up close and personal with the vines, plucking off fruit in order to taste the difference between the grapes, the blend of which makes the balanced sparkling wine we all love to drink.
Having walked through the vineyard learning about the processes involved from our guide, we were brought in to a tasting of three wines – Classic Cuvée, Demi-Sec and Rosé. Although far from being experts, we were both really impressed with the quality of these wines and could quite easily see how they might rival many Champagnes out there. Naturally we were given the opportunity to make purchases directly and we didn’t leave empty handed…
Before we left, however, we did have the pleasure of meeting Brad Greatrix, whose tweets we’d been following since enrolling on WSET Level 2. An expert in all manner of things viticultural, he moved to the UK from Canada to work with Nyetimber and we were fascinated to hear his story of joining the team and their activities at the vineyard.
And so, with this in mind, it seems sensible to hand over to the experts. Cherie Spriggs, one of Nyetimber’s expert winemakers (and Brad’s wife) explains more in this short clip from the Nyetimber website.
It is little wonder that we left the vineyard not only totally captivated by Nyetimber but also prepared to re-assess any ideas we may have previously had about the English wine industry. In fact, we even chose to see in the New Year by toasting 2015 with a glass of Nyetimber rosé. So next time you go to buy some fizz for a celebration, why not consider investing in a sparkling wine that originated a little closer to home?
Try Nyetimber yourself if you’ve not done so already! Click here to find out where you can buy it.
If you want to visit a local vineyard we recommend checking out the Wine Cellar Door website from Elisabeth Else, whose work in promoting English wine was recently highly commended in the 2015 Wine Tourism Awards.go back